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November 30th 2017 print

Keith Windschuttle

The UN’s Assault On Our Sovereignty

The UN once stood for liberty, free speech and fair legal processes. That is no longer the case, as demonstrated by the world body's laundry list of our alleged sins against refugees, women, Aborigines and Gillian Triggs. That is the new agenda -- and Bill Shorten backs it to the hilt

un flagIn October Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was crowing to the news media about her latest achievement. She hailed Australia’s “landmark election” to the United Nations Human Rights Council, even though elected with Australia were such champions of human rights as Afghanistan, Angola, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Three weeks later, the same council turned on Australia with a report listing many alleged failures in our own human rights record.

The council’s report, published on November 9, is an instructive document for Quadrant readers because it offers direct and detailed confirmation of the case made by our international editor, John O’Sullivan, in his 2017 John Howard Lecture, published in our November edition. John argued that the liberal democracy long established in Western countries was shedding its commitment to democracy and mutating into a form of elitist liberalism. “Liberalism has come to mean the proliferation of liberal institutions,” he wrote, “the courts, supra-national bodies, charters of rights, independent agencies, UN treaty monitoring bodies, that increasingly restrain and correct parliaments, congresses and elected officials.”

Those who follow British politics will be familiar with the deluge of directives from the bureaucracy of the European Union that sought to tell British politicians and law officers how to govern their country, and which eventually produced Brexit. The UN Human Rights Council’s report on Australia displays the same kind of officious disdain for this country’s right to manage its own affairs.

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The UN report says that before the Commonwealth government puts any bill before parliament, it should undertake “a meaningful and well-informed review” of whether it is compatible with the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Because of Australia’s alleged failure to give full legal effect to the Covenant, we must take action on an extensive range of issues ranging from counter-terrorism, police behaviour and border protection to marriage reform, domestic violence and Aboriginal policy. Here is an edited summary of the report’s recommendations to show the degree of intrusion into Australian affairs the UN bureaucracy presumes. Australia must:

• end attempts by senior politicians to discredit the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and cuts to its budget;

• review current counter-terrorism laws and practices to ensure their full compliance with the Covenant, especially control orders, stop, search and seizure powers, questioning and detention warrants, preventative detention of terrorists, post-sentence detention of terrorists, “declared area” offences, and revocation of citizenship;

• introduce comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation;

• strengthen efforts against racial discrimination, hate speech and violence on racial, ethnic and religious grounds, including more funding to promote tolerance and diversity; provide more training to law enforcement personnel on promotion of diversity and the inadmissibility of racial profiling;

• strengthen efforts against domestic violence, especially against indigenous women and women with disabilities;

• abolish the practice of involuntary non-therapeutic sterilisation of women and girls with intellectual disability;

• expedite access to Stage Two hormone treatment for gender dysphoria, including the need for court authorisation in cases featuring uncontested agreement of parents, guardians and the medical team;

• revise laws, including the Marriage Act, to ensure, irrespective of the results of the Marriage Law Postal Survey, the equal protection of rights of LGBTI persons. “The Committee is of the view that resort to public opinion polls to facilitate upholding rights under the Covenant in general, and equality and non-discrimination of minority groups in particular, is not an acceptable decision-making method and that such an approach risks further marginalizing and stigmatizing members of minority groups”;

• investigate allegations of excessive use of force by police, including deaths in custody;

• revise laws governing extradition, transfer or removal of non-citizens, including asylum seekers and refugees, because they do not afford full protection against refoulement (deporting a person to his home country when he might be subject to persecution there);

• repeal Section 197C of the Migration Act 1958 and introduce a legal obligation to ensure that the removal of an individual must always be consistent with the Covenant’s non-refoulement obligations;

• review the policy and practices towards persons intercepted at sea;

• repeal the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Act 2014;

• end offshore transfer arrangements and cease any further transfers of refugees or asylum-seekers to Nauru, Papua New Guinea or any other “regional processing country”;

• ensure the transfer of refugees and asylum-seekers to Australia or their relocation to other appropriate safe countries;

• consider closing down the Christmas Island detention centre;

• bring legislation and practice related to immigration detention into compliance with article 9 of the Covenant. The rigid mandatory detention scheme under the Migration Act 1958 does not meet the legal standards of the Covenant. The committee is particularly concerned about the use of detention powers as a general deterrent against unlawful entry rather than in response to individual risk;

• take robust measures to address the over-representation of indigenous Australians in prisons, especially by revising mandatory sentencing laws and imprisonment for fine default, and enhancing the use of non-custodial measures and diverting programs;

• raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility in accordance with international standards;

• provide adequate funding to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples;

• revise the Constitution in order to recognise the special status and fully protect the equal rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

• take appropriate legislative and administrative measures to protect and promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and ensure genuine consultations with land holders and effective protection and management of indigenous heritage sites in implementing the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia;

• remove the barriers to the full protection of land rights and consider amending the Native Title Act 1993, taking into account the Covenant and relevant international standards;

• establish a national reparations mechanism, including compensation schemes, for victims of the “stolen generations”.

In the early decades after the Second World War, Australia supported UN directives because they were universal rights for principles like liberty, free speech and fair legal processes, which applied to all people, wherever they lived and whatever their circumstances. They recognised the inherent dignity and the value of the life of every person.

But what stands out in the UN list just presented to Australia is the absence of universality. Almost all these issues derive from identity politics. They are not simply matters related to the legitimate rights of minorities, which all democratic societies have a duty to protect from unreasonable or ill-informed prejudices of the majority. They are designed to change current Australian policies towards several already favoured interest groups. If implemented, they would make government policies in a number of areas much more difficult than now. They would make it harder to protect citizens from terrorists or would-be terrorists, more difficult to deter illegal immigrants, and needlessly restrict freedom of speech. In other cases, they would intrude on perfectly legitimate policies that should remain the prerogative of Australian parliaments and courts, such as the age of responsibility for children committing crimes or securing sex-change therapies. In yet other areas, especially Aboriginal policy, they would burden taxpayers with even more expenditure than is now wasted on the demonstrably failed policies of remote communities and land rights.

What is of even greater concern is that the demands of this international body support those Australians whose primary allegiance is not to the Australian people but to their peer group in international institutions and affairs, especially in the legal profession. The most transparent expression of this was the High Court judgment of Gerard Brennan (supported by Chief Justice Anthony Mason) in the 1992 Mabo case, which argued Australia’s common law, the product of a thousand years of British heritage, should conform to international conventions invented only in recent decades. Brennan said:

The opening up of international remedies to individuals pursuant to Australia’s accession to the Option Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights brings to bear on the common law the powerful influence of the Covenant and the international standards it imports. The common law does not necessarily conform with international law, but international law is a legitimate and important influence on the development of the common law, especially when international law declares the existence of universal human rights.

As things stand now, Australia’s next election will probably see Bill Shorten and the Labor Party win government. Shorten is running on a campaign of support for identity politics and if he wins is highly likely to adopt the UN agenda. Last year in Britain, electors had the choice of opting out of a similar package imposed by the EU. For Australians under a Shorten government, there would be no such easy way out.

Comments [27]

  1. Ian MacDougall says:

    Shorten is running on a campaign of support for identity politics and if he wins is highly likely to adopt the UN agenda.

    Coming as he does at the tail end of a string of postWW2 ALP leaders of definitely variable quality, Shorten is definitely Labor-lite.
    I will trust him 100% to do whatever is good for the career of Bill Shorten.

  2. Warty says:

    It may well be necessary to go through three, six years of dystopian hell in order to reestablish a genuine conservative party.
    Followers of the philosophy of Edmund Burke understand that change is an inevitable aspect of the human condition (we are human, not rocks) but such an adherent believes in ‘considered’ change, and is loath to submit to change unless absolutely necessary.
    An adherent of the philosophy of Edmund Burke is also a firm believer in the efficacy of tradition, believing that wiser heads than those in the present formulated the customs and the laws passed down to their descendants, and that, indeed, those customs that evolved, and the laws that were wisely considered and enacted, were formulated with half a mind to posterity.
    I solemnly believe that such a conservative party already exists, and its name is not mud, and its practice is not duplicity, and its following is not Labor lite. That party is not the Liberal charade, nor the Liberal Democrats, who scavenged voters from the semi illiterate who thought they were voting for the party of domkops (the Libs, and excuse my Africaans) nor Pauline’s One Nation, a group of well intentioned, ill-organised hopefuls; but the one and only, the par excellence, the well considered, well organised, The Australian Conservatives.

    • mags of Queensland says:

      The sooner we opt out of the UN the better. It has long outlived its usefulness and is now just a platform for every little tinpot nation with an axe to grind. If Donald Trump wants to leave his ,ark on his term, telling them to bugger off would be the way to do it. They stand for nothing but are always pointing the finger at nations with far better ethics that they have.

  3. Ian MacDougall says:

    …but the one and only, the par excellence, the well considered, well organised, The Australian Conservatives.

    And Warty, I would add ‘with more hidden agendas and rabbits ready to be pulled out of hats than you could shake a stick at.’
    I went through the AC policy statement at https://www.conservatives.org.au/our_policies and could not believe they would come up with something as transparently sectional and simple-minded as that.
    Still, as WC Fields said: “Nobody ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” The ‘Australian Conservatives’ (really radicals) arguably have much the same attitude to Australian voters.
    Some of the AC policies I would support. But I would expect that sooner or later, as their vote grows a bit, they will merge with Hanson’s mob. Then look out: it will be back to the Middle Ages.
    Meanwhile, Bernardi has delivered a political betrayal of those who elected him as a Liberal Senate candidate. If he had any principle, he would resign immediately and stand again in the consequent by-election as an AC candidate.
    But he wants it both ways.
    Details on request.

    • Warty says:

      I gather you’ve discovered a host of hidden agenda, and hopefully you’ll outline them. Perhaps a mere ten will do, as there are ‘more hidden agendas and rabbits ready to be pulled out of hats than you could shake a stick at.’ Having written a good half page or so you might also point out how The Australian Conservatives underestimate the intelligence of their fellow Australians, because I could not find a single patronising statement in their policy statement.
      There has been much debate about this alleged betrayal of both his party and his electorate, despite his valid point that the Liberals had pretty well left him, with their labor-lite policies, something he never signed up to and something he had little control over. As you may remember, he was banished to the back benches back in 2012, with his ‘slippery slope’ statement (which are well on their way to manifesting).
      His reasons for forming his own party tally pretty well with my own reasons for giving the Libs the flick: they are, collectively, not what I ‘signed up for’. I cannot for the life of me understand why Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Andrew Hastie et al don’t abandon a party infected with a variant of the bubonic plague. I’d head for the countryside with the rest of conservatives, without a backward glance. The villainy is all to do with what has been going on within the party, not leaving it.
      Not wanting to dismiss Pauline’s One Nation, but I’d be prepared to wager with you they’d never merge, at least not under Pauline’s leadership and not without a firm commitment on the part of their party members to observe a bit of party discipline.
      So details most definitely requested, and while you are about it, you might like to explain how you are able to type your italics in your various responses.

      • LBLoveday says:

        To italicise, you could try these:
        Step 1

        Press the “Ctrl” and “I” keys simultaneously to type in italics if you are using word processing software such as Microsoft Word or an email client such as Microsoft Outlook. Press “Ctrl” and “I” again to revert to normal text.

        Step 2

        Type “” before typing the text that you would like to appear in italics if you are typing a blog post or social networking profile that accepts direct HTML input. Websites that accept HTML input include WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr. Type “” after the italic text. The italic text will not appear until you save the blog post or profile.

        Step 3

        Type “[i]” before typing the italic text if you are typing a post on a forum that supports BB code. Forums using the vBulletin software support BB code. Type “[/i]” when you are finished typing the text. The italics will not appear until you save the post.

        So, I’ll try here:
        (1) no go
        (2) “”italics?”"
        (3) “[i]“italics?”[/i]”

        Then the only way to see if (2) or (3) work is to hit post.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        So details most definitely requested, and while you are about it, you might like to explain how you are able to type your italics in your various responses.

        Warty, or whatever your real name is: I take it from the manner of your request that you are probably a condescending Army officer: one disinclined to suffer any nonsense from underlings, even when asking a favour.
        The trick is to learn a bit of the HTML (HyperText Markup Language). Have a look at the site below and those posted next.
        OR go to the Guardian site also below, pick any story on the opening page that has a number indicating comments written by readers, and choose ‘Leave a Comment’ on the page concerned. A small number of common HTML tags are there for you to try out. They should be all you need.
        WARNING: Site may contain material offensive or distressing to ‘conservatives’.
        The rest of your order in due course. Sah!


          • Jody says:

            I’m surprised you read “The Guardian”, to be honest. It poses as highbrow but it makes a calculated attempt to create a culture of victimhood and leave its readers right there. Terribly cynical, I must say. And its angry Van Badham appears on “The Drum” in her cain-like resentment livery. They’re mostly hideous people and their readership is encouraged to toe a very blatant undergraduate line.

    • Jody says:

      Bernardi will fizz like a damp squib. The Queensland election shows these minor parties are disruptive forces and that’s all; like a kind of branded donkey vote. And now it looks like the people of the USA are closer to felling their new President, which I predicted. There’s a real feeling of hubris today in the swamp and these sharks are circling with the taste blood in the water. Still, with Trump gone they still WILL have a Republican President, more people in work, less illegal immigration, tax cuts for business and a record-breaking stock exchange.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        Jody: No room left up there at December 5, 2017 at 9:16 am
        Have a look at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/dec/06/the-post-review-steven-spielberg-tom-hanks-meryl-streep-washington-post
        What’s wrong with that? It has induced me to go and see the film first chance I get.
        And Van Badham did not write it, so you need not worry.

        • Jody says:

          I dislike intensely the ideology of “The Guardian” and it’s faux highbrow pretensions. Its cabal of angry lefties leaves its ideological trail in each and every smug offering. Van Badham isn’t the only offender, but she’s symptomatic of that resentment you see writ large throughout “the Guardian”. Here’s just one tiny sample where the headline says “Coalition STYMIES”. Emotive language is the cat being belled. “Day long brawl”…”loggerheads”…on and on it goes WITHOUT a single reference to the fact that Turnbull offered bipartisanship on this 2 or more weeks ago when he suggested in parliament that BOTH parties needed to take their doubtfulls to the High Court in a job lot. Offer rejected by Shorten who turns out to have been a liar. So, “The Guardian” in full advocacy and activist mode, once again.


          • Ian MacDougall says:

            Offer rejected by Shorten who turns out to have been a liar.

            But look on the bright side: he appears to be the least worst option next time around, even though he probably could’t find his way out of a ten-acre paddock.
            According to my theoretical perspective in my Blowfly Theory of Political Economy, I’m afraid Shorten qualifies as a thoroughbred blowfly; top deck. As far as I am aware, he has never had a proper job, but has served his time as a union apparatchik, before the powers that be pitchforked him into Parliament, from whence he will likely become PM next time around.
            Christ help us!

    • Salome says:

      We’ll be in the Middle Ages quicker with a continuation of Climate Madness (reducing reliability and affordability of electricity) and an increase in Muslim migration.

  4. Warty says:

    If I may also request, Ian, that you explain why these alleged ‘hidden agenda and sleights of hand’ are what you say they are. Pointing them out won’t cut it.

  5. padraic says:

    I agree with Keith about the U.N. It has been captured by weirdos whos use it to formulate their bucket list.

    • Jody says:

      I liked the comment in the article in “The Spectator” (which I now get weekly through the mail)…”the refugee convention was torn up in 2015 when a million ‘refugees’ turned up in Germany after travelling through up to 20 countries to get there”. So, it’s effectively dead and buried anyway if you determine effectiveness by practice and outcomes.